The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 2.7.17
South Korea is planning to acquire a fleet of 12 anti-submarine warfare helicopters as part of a broad effort to recapitalize the Republic of Korea Navy’s (ROKN) maritime rotorcraft capabilities over the near-to mid-term. Currently, the choice is between three models: the AgustaWestland AW-159, the Sikorsky MH-60R, and the NHIndustries NH-90. South Korea acquired eight AW-159 maritime helicopters in 2016 following an open competition in which the AW-159 edged out the MH-60S variant in 2013. The helicopters will operate from the Incheon-class guided-missile frigates.
According to Canadian procurement minister Judy Foote, the Trudeau government has begun negotiations with the United States for the sole-source purchase of 18 Boeing Super Hornets. The order will act as a stopgap measure to ease pressure on Canada’s aging fleet of CF-18s until a full competition for a new fighter jet can be completed. Negotiations are expected to take a year, with the final agreement requiring Canadian congressional approval, but the government has signaled that it is hoping to receive the first of the Super Hornets by 2019. While the Canadian government has declined to reveal the estimated cost of the purchase, a CBC News report put the total cost between $3.8 billion and $5.3 billion. Boeing expects the Canadian government to submit a formal letter of request to the Pentagon within the next few weeks.
The Polish government is weighing its options for the procurement of an air-and-missile defense system under the Wisla program. Poland has been in negotiations with the U.S. to procure eight Patriot Systems from Raytheon worth approximately $5 billion, but received a proposal from MEADS International (MI) for their Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) on January 31. The proposal includes 16 systems and reiterated MI’s intention to work in conjunction with Polish defense firms. MEADS was considered alongside Israel’s David’s Sling system for the Wisla program in 2015, but was initially eliminated because both programs are still in the development. Under the ruling Law and Justice Party, MEADS was brought back to the table in mid-2016 and, if chosen this time, would move from development to the production phase in 2017. A contract for the Wisla program was originally set to be awarded in late 2016; however, this has been delayed and is now expected to be announced in 2017.
Norway selected German firm ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) to build four air-independent propulsion submarines. TKMS came out ahead of French builder DCNS, which made an offering based on its Scorpene-class submarine. Norway and Germany will begin contract negotiations and expect to have a final contract by 2019. The submarines will be based on TKMS’s Type 212 submarine and will replace Norway’s Ula-class submarines, which have been in service since 1989. The new Type 212-based submarines are expected to enter Norwegian service between 2025 and 2028. Norway has spent over $60 million since 2008 upgrading the Ula-class vessels; however, a continuous submarine capability has been a high priority, and the Ula-class has reached such an age and condition that further upgrades would not preserve a credible undersea capability. Although the Norwegian Defense Ministry would not confirm the price for the submarines, rough estimates are between $300-600 million for each unit. The existing Ula-class submarines cost slightly less than $300 million each when they were ordered, accounting for inflation and exchange rate fluctuations.